When San Antonio voters go to the polls May 9, they could decide whether to continue funding the further development of creekside trails and maintaining proper protection of the Edwards Aquifer. In particular, the funds could bolster efforts to enhance San Pedro Creek. The City Council decided Jan. 29 to put on the May 9 ballot an initiative to reauthorize a 1/8-cent sales tax that supports these two programs, which voters approved in 2000, 2005 and 2010. If the measure is approved, the city could increase funding from $90 million to $100 million for aquifer protection, and from $45 million to $80 million for creekways over the next five-year round of funding/improvements, starting in 2016. While the creekways protection would extend all major creeks around San Antonio, business leaders advocating growth in downtown lobbied the council to allocate a share toward San Pedro Creek, as well as HemisFair Park and the Broadway “complete streets” program.
Actually, Centro San Antonio – a group that backs downtown revitalization – wrote to city leaders last week, asking them to raise the total funding threshold for the Edwards Aquifer and parks venue programs to $200 million. Bexar County is already committing $125 million toward the San Pedro Creek redevelopment project – a project that county officials say would create about 1,000 jobs and could produce up to $227.4 million in taxes upon its full build-out within a decade. The San Antonio River Authority is a partner in the $175 million revitalization of a two-mile segment of the creek through downtown. The project’s scope runs from Interstate 35 – at the flood tunnel inlet near Fox Tech High School – to the confluence with the Alazan/Apache Creeks at I-35 near the stockyards.
The project would widen and deepen the San Pedro Creek channel, increasing its carrying capacity and would take 41 acres out of the floodplain. Another $30 million would be required to acquire more right-of-way property for the project. The project also involves restoring and upgrading the creek’s water quality. The San Pedro Creek project is currently in the design phase; construction is scheduled to last from 2016 to 2018 in time for a celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city’s establishment. The letter from Centro San Antonio to city officials last week contends that voters possibly approving more money this May would ensure a solid funding mechanism for the San Pedro Creek project.
The letter states: “The San Pedro Creek restoration project, included in the newly announced Urban Waters Federal Partnership, meets the creekways program criteria and would benefit from an infusion of capital that would: leverage Bexar County’s $125 million commitment; help close a known funding gap; and ensure that the project can be completed as envisioned.” The letter continues: “The project would add an important recreational amenity to the urban core, provide an improved water management and flood control, and serve as a catalyst for development in the western portion of downtown, which at one time marked the center of our city.” The county encourages public improvement throughout the rest of the design process, and through construction, via meetings of San Pedro Creek Subcommittee and Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee as well as town hall-type meetings.